Canberra Capitals coach Carrie Graf will rely on the experience of her senior players to ensure her team is not affected by a shortened pre-season.
And the Australian Opals mentor has backed ''draught horse'' Marianna Tolo to have ''the best season of her career'' when the WNBL tips off next month.
The Capitals got together for their first pre-season training session last night with less than a month to go before their first game - a grand final rematch against the Bulleen Boomers on October8.
Graf's intense off-season of travelling to visit her Opals players and the campaign to qualify for the London Olympics has prevented the Capitals from training as a full squad until now.
But having won seven championships as a coach, Graf is confident her core players - Tolo, Jess Bibby, Carly Wilson, Michelle Cosier and Nicole Hunt - will help fast-track the team's new recruits.
''We'll add some things to our systems to fit the people we've got coming in, but with a new start we'll roll with what we know works for us,'' Graf said. ''We can hit the ground running pretty well because we've got a core group that has been together for a while.
''... Tolo is a draught horse, her work-load is massive and I think having the break from a weekly practice hopefully sets her up because we're looking to her to have the best season of her career.''
The Capitals have added Alice Coddington, Brigitte Ardossi and Molly Lewis to their roster and have one spot left to fill.
Graf has given former Sydney Uni Flame Mikaela Dombkins a chance to take the last contract.
However, the Capitals will put her through a tough training regimen over the next three weeks to see if she has fully recovered from a back injury and whether she fits in with the rest of the group.
Graf will get a better insight to how her team will shape up when it plays a pre-season match against the Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday.
Tolo has just arrived back in Canberra after helping the Opals beat New Zealand to qualify for the Olympics.
The two-time Capitals most valuable player did not play for a South East Australian Basketball League team during the off-season, instead preferring to take a break in between her national duties.
With Suzy Batkovic joining the Adelaide Lighting, Tolo will shoulder the majority of Canberra's title hopes and needs to form a formidable partnership with Ardossi.
''It's going to be good to get back into things and have a bit of a schedule going now and I'm actually looking forward to it,'' Tolo said.
''It's going to be interesting to see how we go, we've got some fresh faces and the next couple weeks of training are going to be really important.
''We've got the core together now it's just about adding in the new people and that's refreshing.''
The Capitals lost the 2010-11 season grand final to the Boomers in March.
Despite fielding a new-look roster, Graf is confident her team will still be a title contender.
Canberra Capitals v Sydney Uni Flames at Sydney University, 5pm
October 8: Canberra Capitals v Bulleen Boomers at Veneto Club, 1pm
October 9: Canberra Capitals v Dandenong Rangers at Dandenong, 12.30pm
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